DIY Project: How to Make a Live Edge Wood Slab Coffee Table

I've always loved the look of live edge wood - on countertops, on tables, on siding - and we've made a handful of tables for our house. Live edge wood comes in so many shapes and sizes that it's easier to make a custom table than to hope that you find one that's right for your home.

This is a project you could do in a weekend from start to finish - with most of the time being dry time for the polyurethane!

Materials for Building a Live Edge Coffee Table:

  • Slab of Live Edge Wood
  • Mouse Sander or Orbital Sander
  • Sandpaper in varying grits (60, 120, 220, 320)
  • Polyurethane
  • Sponge Brush
  • Hairpin Legs + Hardware
  • Power Drill

What is live edge wood?

Live edge wood is a style of furniture or fixtures that incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the design of the piece. For this table, we're using a slab of black walnut from a local architectural salvage.

How to Build a Live Edge Wood Slab Coffee Table:

  • Cut Your Table to the Proper Size
Hopefully your slab of wood is fairly close to the size you're looking for, but you can always trim it up for a perfect fit. The beauty of live edge wood is in the natural edge - we trimmed the short ends so that our table was the length we wanted and shaved off an uneven piece that was looking brittle - leaving the wavy edges and bark on the long edges of the table.

  • Sand the top and bottom of your table
Sand the top and bottom of your table with a mouse sander, orbital sander, or just sandpaper and a block. Start with the lowest-grade number like 60 grit to sand out any really rough parts of the wood. Slowly work your way up to higher and higher grits for a finer finish.

  • Remove any excess dust with a damp cloth
  • Coat your table with Polyurethane
You should finish your table with a polyurethane so that it can stand up to use. Polyurethane comes in finishes from matte to glossy so you can choose your finish based on your taste.

Polyurethane should be brushed on in thin, careful layers to avoid pooling.
  • Let your polyurethane dry
  • Lightly sand poly with a very fine (like 500 grit) sandpaper
  • Add another coat of polyurethane
  • Let the polyurethane dry overnight

  • Measure where you want your legs to fit
We're using "Just the Tip" hairpin legs from Modern Legs. Hairpin legs come in all sizes - we purchased legs that would be even with the height of our couch seating - but you can also get tall legs to create a live edge console table as well! You can see images of both our wood slab coffee table and console table in the living room makeover post.
  • Drill holes into the wood where the screws will go

  • Attach hairpin legs by screwing into the holes
You're done!

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